Travel Basics: How to travel Europe
You’re planning your first trip to Europe! You’re probably feeling VERY excited…. and maybe a little nervous about all the things you might be forgetting about. Have no fear! A first trip to Europe is a huge milestone. I’ve put together this very basic guide on what you need to know about how to travel Europe for the first time.
You will need a passport to travel to any country in the United Kingdom or the European Union. If you are a US citizen, for the most part you will not need any kind of Visa… but this can change, so make sure to consult visacentral.com to double check for your specific destinations. You will need to make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your return date. Meaning if you plan on returning home from your trip on 6/1/2019 your passport needs to be valid until at the very least 12/2/2019. Another thing that you will need is proof of your plans to return home after your trip. This would be in the form of a plane ticket back to the states. Seems kind of obvious. but I’ve actually been burnt by this one a few times…especially if you are backpacking or don’t have a clear plan of how long you’ll be gone or what you’ll be doing.
Currency and $$$:
In the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) use Pounds. Most countries in Europe use Euros. I recommend using a debit or credit card to access money while traveling. Call your bank ahead of time to let them know you are traveling and ask about any foreign transaction fees. I have the Bank of America Travel Card and what’s great about that one is that BoA has “partner banks” in other countries. So before traveling I know which foreign ATMs I can take cash out from without getting any fees.
Phones and Internet:
Some cities in Europe are better than other when it comes to free WiFi. That being said, I rely on my phone — Instagram, Yelp reviews, Google Maps — so heavily when I am traveling I now ALWAYS buy a phone plan no matter where I am going. Rather than trying to go through my US carrier and figure something out I’ve found its way easier to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card either when I arrive at my destination or on Amazon beforehand. This one from Three is what I pretty much always use in Europe.
Pickpockets are a thing in Europe. Again, evert city is different but overall in places like Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Florence… you have to be super aware of your bag. Wear your backpack to the front if you are on a bus or train. Be super wary of strangers trying to sell you random crap at tourist attractions. Never leave anything unattended. Zip your bags and put your wallet in the front pocket of your jeans.
Check out my packing specific posts here.
In general, make sure that the shoes you bring are actually comfortable. You’ll be doing a lot more walking then you probably do on your day-to-day back at home. I recommend a cross-body day bag with a zipper. That way you can have your hands free but also know your stuff is safe and in front of you. Make sure it has enough room for your phone, wallet, camera and whatever else you’ll want. If you’re going to check a bag on the plane then make sure your carry-on personal item has all your absolute essentials in case your checked bag gets lost (speaking from experience). That means contact lenses, medication, toiletry essentials, passports and money, essential chargers — you get the picture.
I live and die by this thing when traveling. Just buy it.
I love the Lonely Planet guide books. Obviously use this blog 🙂 and others. I also rely on YouTube a lot to give me a visual of what people are wearing, what the streets look like and more.